Sunday, 23 April 2017

Unsung Heroes

Staffordshire LA  1  Eastwood Hanley  12

Staffordshire County Senior League - First Division

One of the challenges when following Staffordshire County Senior League football is actually knowing who plays where? Clubs do have a habit of being somewhat nomadic.

This is not a problem unique to this particular league, but it's a problem for football at County League level full stop. The reason behind this is typically because a good number of grounds are hired by the clubs, and then there comes a point when charges rise, and costs can't be met, so as a result they up sticks and move somewhere else, or they just pack up.

This league in particular is very good in the sense that it publishes it's handbook, which gives the locations, and at the start of the season it's invaluable because more often than not someone will have moved somewhere new, and without the information from the league you would never know. But more importantly, it gives the details of the club officials, and it is these people who go along way towards helping neutrals like me make decisions regarding where to travel to on a match day.

Ben Cook at Staffordshire LA falls very much into that category. I contacted him earlier in the season during a period of snowy weather, and despite admitting to me he had something like 17 texts on his phone asking if the game was on, and having also been at work he had no chance to respond to any of them, he still made the point of picking up the phone to me to keep me posted.

That day the game at the Gordon Banks Sports Centre was called off due to the snowy surrounds, and thanks to Ben it saved me a wasted journey. Then, a couple of months back, my mate Steve planned to visit LA, but we had heard they'd moved to the Dimensions Sports Centre, he spoke to Ben, who confirmed the details of the game, and at the same time confirmed the club were planning to at least see the season out at the new venue.

So, with one home game left, I decided to go for it, the last remaining ground I needed to visit in the league, it was time for a precautionary text to Ben, and I did that for two reasons, to check they were still at Dimensions and also to check the the kick off time as only a hundred yards away Port Vale were playing Bolton Wanderers in a crucial League One fixture.

Vale Park In Close Proximity - The Battle Was Soon To Commence!
He came back to me, confirmed all was ok, so I responded and pointed him in direction of this blog. He came back to me later that night having browsed it and said he was impressed, and hoped to see me the following day. Things like that make you feel good about a club, and make you want to pay them a visit, it doesn't take much, but those first impressions are really important.

Now then, the Port Vale game, lets box that debacle off first of all. I arrived an hour before kick off, knowing that in turn would get me to the vicinity of Vale Park about 90 minutes before a game that Vale were desperate to win to stay up, and Bolton needed to win (subject to Fleetwood's result) to go up. Bolton bought 4,000 to the game! It was going to busy, but thankfully by arriving early I didn't have too many issues in the way of traffic or parking, and then after the game I could get away before the madness commenced. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, the game finished way later than it should have done thanks to a significant delay while Vale and Wanderers fans decided to have a battle on the pitch. I don't know what the centre of Burslem was like after the game but I suspect it was tense.

The Dimensions Sports Centre sits right behind the home end at Vale Park, the noise of the crowd is clearly audible, and to access it you simply head down Scotia Road and enter the car park, which on a Vale match day has people streaming through it to get to the stadium.

A pint was enjoyed in the cafe area, before heading up the slope to the artificial pitch that LA are calling home. I overheard an Eastwood Hanley player say in the warm up that it was the best artificial pitch he'd played on, and to be fair from where I was stood it looked to play very well indeed. In terms of viewing, you had two options, behind either goal, for half the width of the pitch, that was it. As the game kicked off it was slightly bizarre that four women turned up with both cameras and video recorders to take some shots of the game. Quite why I don't know, unless one of the clubs has a very active media department that requires such photographic attention? If I was a betting man I would suggest students from the nearby Universities of Keele or Staffordshire.

Cameras At The Ready
The game, right, this is where it gets a bit awkward, because Ben will probably at some stage read this! After twenty minutes Eastwood were 5-0 up, it had been a complete massacre, but to be fair to LA they rallied and only conceded once more in the remaining twenty five minutes of the first half.

The second half was no better, a further six goals went past LA but they did pull one back. Was it a fair outcome? Well, Eastwood could have had countless more but to be fair some good defending and indeed goalkeeping kept other goal bound efforts out. Were LA that bad though? Going forward they looked ok on the rare occasions they did, but ultimately Eastwood ran rings round them, they were a significantly better side who played with movement, pace and no lack of skill. The league table would demonstrate that, Eastwood are set to achieve a promotion position, LA look set to finish in a relegation berth.

I made a quick exit at the end, I think at that moment in time the first punches were being thrown on the pitch at Vale Park. I never did catch up with Ben, I don't know if he was a player, or a member of the management team, but I suspected he was best left alone after this hammering.

The unsung heroes though, those that work for football clubs week in and week out, and never even think about quitting, even after a twelve goal drubbing. You deserve to be saluted, all good things and all that.........

Match Action


 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Worst Team In England

Tunstall Town  5  HDFC  1

Staffordshire County Senior League - Division Two North

"Tunstall Town finally end 171 game run without a win" screamed the headline on the BBC website in January 2014.

Recognised unofficially as the 'Worst Team In England', they had found their fifteen minutes of fame, but what preceded it was tantamount to a whole World of pain for the football club from the Potteries. Six and half years of pain to be precise, but why was that, and also, why bother?

Well you certainly couldn't criticise the persistence and indeed the resolve to simply keep going, but defeats into double figures on a regular basis, and goal differences upwards of -200 suggested a serious underlying problem, and it will come as no shock when the diagnosis suggests it had something to do with the players!

Not just any players though, because Tunstall Town were effectively a veterans team, it was reported in some games that the average age of the back four was 50, so the playing field was clearly not a level one in a competition packed with fit, young whippersnappers.

The were wooden spoon winners season after season, but gradually things started to change, the average age of the team for a start. 143 consecutive defeats then finally came to an end with the victory over Whittington in January 2014. They were dancing in the streets of Tunstall, well, Knypersley where they were actually domiciled.

In The Shadow Of Sir Stanley
Then, at the start of this season came revolution. They decamped to the Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy in Blurton which had both grass and artificial pitches, and furthermore they went about signing players who had been there and done it, notably Matt Haddrell, the striker who had scored goals a plenty in the Evo-Stik League. Rumours abounded that players were being paid, but I say only rumours.

So how has it gone? 19 wins and 1 draw from 20 league games tells it's own story. Division Two North will be won at a canter although Foley Meir Reserves gave it a good shot. The County Challenge Cup has also been won but the Division Two Cup was narrowly lost on penalties to Brereton Social.

It's a far cry from the bad old days, in fact these are heady days indeed, and it was time to pay them a visit.

The Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy is a smart educational facility sat right at the top of the Blurton estate and backs onto the Longton Rugby ground that is ironically also the home of tonight's visitors HDFC (Hardman Development as was). Stoke City's stadium can be seen in the distance, and the ground is reached from the A50 via Sir Stanley Matthews Way.

The pitch used tonight was set on a plateau, but from time to time this season when the weather has dictated they have used the artificial pitch that is adjacent. The pitch had been freshly cut, but the grass cuttings had been left on the field which gave it an untidy appearance. A smattering of spectators turned out for the game, including a handful of curious neutrals like myself.

The Vast Expanses Of The OSSMA
Tunstall looked a confident and indeed competent side, although give credit to HDFC who were far from outclassed, certainly in the first period. Tunstall went in 1-0 up at half time, but the visitors equalised 18 seconds into the second half.

This galvanised Tunstall who then went on to move into another gear to retake the lead, before a quick fire barrage saw them produce neat finishes to take the game away from HDFC.

When you have quality and you also have momentum, you take some stopping, and to be frank, they won't be stopped. How will they fare in Division One? Hard to say because I was lead to believe that a few key players were missing tonight, but I suspect they will strengthen where they feel they need to and make a push to take the club to Step 7.

Sir Stanley will have looked on, in the shadow of the academy they named in his honour, and smiled, he would be delighted that no longer does a team from his beloved Stoke-on-Trent have the tag of being the worst team in England......
Getting Dark Now Liner....


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Testing Resolve

Dukinfield Town  1  Walshaw Sports  0

Manchester Football League Premier Division

I have kept my promise, I said a few weeks ago that I would make every effort to get to a few Manchester League grounds in April, and after having a very enjoyable evening at Springhead, I was even more determined to maintain my pledge.

Dukinfield Town were the opponents at Springhead, but tonight they were the hosts, and after being sat in a meeting all day in Liverpool, it was a moderately stress free journey via the M62 and M60 into Ashton-Under-Lyne and then onto the suburb of Dukinfield.

Dukinfield is a brutally urban satellite town on the East edge of Manchester, and with the absolute greatest of respect, it isn’t the most aesthetic area of the World you will ever visit. Social Housing proliferates the area close to the Woodhams Park ground that the club play at, while a youth centre backs onto the community facilities that mark the space between the car park and the concrete fence that surrounds the football facilities.

The Pearly Gates
A pint in the nearby Wheatsheaf saw me sat lonely as a cloud, and with some debate as to when the game would kick off (the website said 6.45 but the Dukinfield players thought 6.30), I had to be quick in my guzzling. I arrived back bang on 6.30, but it was not yet kick off time, it did however get underway at 6.38, so betwixt the advertised and the assumed.

The ground was fenced in on two with the concrete post and slab construction that is commonly seen, but panels were missing. On the other two sides were housing and industrial units. The pitch was posted and railed while hard standing surrounded it. The grass areas were overgrown, it looked to lack loving care and attention, but it did the job. Clubs don’t have the hands these days to keep things spick and span, you can’t blame Dukinfield Town for that, indeed it may not even be their responsibility?

There was a bit of a chill in the air, the crowd was sparse and the two teams were both struggling at the wrong end of the table. Bury based Walshaw Sports did have the advantage though and it was they who looked the most likely side in the early exchanges.

Urban Jungle
The Walshaw bench were a lively bunch, very little passed by without a comment, a shout or a scream, typically aimed at the linesman (he was the nearest). But if they thought their methods would influence the officials positively in their favour, they were mistaken.

The only goal of the game came in the first period and it was an absolute cracker. An overhead kick from the edge of the box found the back of the net, and to be honest it wasn’t really in keeping with the game.

Plenty of effort, plenty of fight, but not a great deal in the way of quality in the areas that mattered. 1-0 was probably about right. Dukinfield, while actually hitting the bar with the last kick of the game, might argue they deserved a point, but Walshaw will point to the times they got behind the home defence, especially in wide areas, but the final ball was lacking.

The pitch didn’t help matters much, it was bobbly, as they often are at this stage of the season, but in summary, it wasn’t a great spectacle.

If you are thinking I didn’t enjoy tonight’s game much, you are probably right. It didn’t float my boat, and that isn’t anyone’s fault, it was just the combination of factors already mentioned that lead to that conclusion.

I won’t let it put me off though, remember this is a man who bravely battled two divisions of the Leicestershire Senior League without needing medical attention or a lawyer!


Rochdale Sacred Heart next week, with a name like that, what’s not to like?

Grey Skies

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Nevermind

Leicester Nirvana  2  Kirby Muxloe  0

United Counties League Premier Division

It was 'oh so close' last season for Leicester Nirvana.

The battle with AFC Kempston Rovers went right to the wire but ultimately it was the boys from Bedford who crossed the line in pole position, and they took their rightful place in Step 4.

2015-16 was the first season that the club formerly known as Thurnby Nirvana, took on the Leicester prefix. Maybe they saw the Premier League title coming for the Foxes and wanted to piggyback it? Or maybe they just decided it was time for a seamless structure given that the senior team plying their trade were once known as Thurnby Rangers, and only adopted 'Nirvana' after merging with a predominantly junior organisation known simply as Leicester Nirvana?

Anyway, it goes the full circle and the named link to Thurnby has gone, which for some is a shame because it was this club that managed to climb from the Leicestershire Senior League, into the East Midlands Counties League and finally the United Counties League where in the season prior to becoming Leicester Nirvana, they also finished runners up, this time to AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

I Spy A Kirby Muxloe Fan - Not Far From The Clubhouse
It's quite a story to be fair, but as often happens after a couple of near misses, the manager and the players decide that while they may not have achieved their goal collectively, as individuals they are deserving of a better stage. They pretty much pitched up at Gresley as a unit, so in a roundabout way, they got to Step 4 after all, leaving the club behind!

This left Nirvana in a bit of a hole, Scott Goodwin was appointed manager and they had to rebuild, which has resulted in a season of consolidation, but, this term the focus has been considerably more off the pitch than on it.

Playing previously at the Gleneagles Avenue home of Highfield Rangers, they had plans to develop a ground at the location of the junior sides in Hamilton Park. It kind of went under the radar though, certainly for me it did, and I like to think I pay attention to such happenings. Having been to Hamilton Park before to see the then reserves of Thurnby Nirvana play, all I could recall was an open expanse on which sat a couple of pitches, with a changing block located next to the car park.

So it came as something of a surprise earlier this season when Nirvana announced that they were delighted to be moving 'home', with a game under floodlights at the 'new' Hamilton Park stadium.

Where Meccano Meets Originality
They worked both quickly and quietly to create a facility that is fit for Step 5 football, and having kept an eye on the fixtures, Easter Monday looked the ideal choice for me to pay them a visit.

So what have they done?

They've erected a large green fence to enclose the ground, although it doesn't stop those not wanting to pay having a free view from two sides of the pitch. Hard standing and floodlights are in place while an Atcost stand has almost inevitably found it's way onto the half way line. Credit to them though, they are in the throws of erecting some additional cover next to the stand and by the looks of it, it will be in place for next season.

The clubhouse sat atop the bank behind the goal, with an elevated viewing area in front. It was neat and tidy and also purposeful. They've created a football ground out of a piece of land, and that's something many, many clubs wish they could do.

The crowd on the Bank Holiday was sparse, certainly not many more than 50, and despite it being a local derby, perhaps a third of the crowd were neutrals / hoppers. Kirby Muxloe had very few fans, in fact by all accounts they could only muster up eleven players, so if you had turned up you probably would have been on the bench!

The first half was shocking, I was just glad a couple of lads I knew had turned up to help alleviate the boredom. For a Step 5 game, it was dreadful stuff, but thankfully the second half improved somewhat with Nirvana getting a grip on the game. The first goal came from the penalty spot while the second was a really well taken individual effort.

A well known Kirby Muxloe fan vented his spleen on the TK Forum, describing his teams performance as 'an absolute abomination', it was hard to argue. They may stay up this season, but next year could be curtains.

But this was about Nirvana, they have a base of their own now, a clear identity, they just need to start to replicate the success of the previous two seasons, assuming of course that is on the radar. Don't expect Dave Grohl to turn up in a hurry though, he's moved on, he's a Foo Fighter these days, they don't do the United Counties League, can't for a minute think why not, Holbeach would be right up their street?

Nevermind, as Nirvana once said, probably when Kempston pipped them to the title............

Here We Are Now - Entertain Us


 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Something Special

Cobh Wanderers  1  Greystones United  0

FAI Intermediate Cup - Semi Final Replay

Sometimes you stumble upon a game, turn up out of pure curiosity, and then end up witnessing something quite special.

I'd been following Cobh Wanderers on Twitter as they were going to be the away team on the Tuesday evening at UCC, which I'd been planning to attend until the game was postponed. However, while checking their tweets I noticed that on the previous weekend they were playing away at what they were terming the biggest game in the clubs recent history. The Intermediate Cup Semi Final at Greystones United.

The Crowd Builds
The FAI Intermediate Cup is a competition for clubs playing outside of the professional ranks of the League of Ireland, and in the past eight seasons it's been dominated by two sides, Crumlin United and Avondale United. Clubs from the respective leagues in Munster, Leinster and Ulster compete, on a national basis, and the final is played at the Aviva Stadium. It's prestigious, and when you get as far as Cobh have, you damn well want to go all the way!

The game at Greystones, a Wicklow based club, finished goalless, so I then spotted in the early part of the week that the replay was going to be on the Saturday at Cobh's ground, Old Church Park. It looked a far more intriguing option than my original thoughts of a trip to Ringmahon Rangers. When I say intriguing, I really didn't know what to expect?

Viewing Spaces At A Premium
Clearly for Wanderers this was a big thing, they are the smaller of the two clubs in Cobh, with Ramblers playing in the LOI. But I was really curious to see how the town would get out and support them. I wouldn't imagine in Cobh you are born a Rambler or a Wanderer and never the twain shall meet, but at the same time, just how much interest was their in the junior of the two sides across the local footballing community?

In short, an awful lot! I arrived forty minutes before kick off, grabbed one of the few remaining parking spaces on the lane to the ground, and joined the growing gaggle of spectators making their way to the gate to hand over the Five Euro admission. The ground is a railed off pitch, with a small dressing room building on one side, and to cater for the crowd, a gazebo had been erected from where hot food and drinks could be bought.

By kick off I would estimate a crowd of around 1000 had assembled, I was really unsure what the turn out would be, but even at the higher end of my estimations, I never expected this many. Good viewing points were at a premium so I opted for an elevated view from the grass bank that ran from the video gantry along to the corner flag, and from that vantage point we witnessed a very tense opening forty five minutes that was devoid of any real goal scoring opportunity. The game reminded me of some of the non-league play off games I'd seen in England, high in intensity, atmosphere, and nerves, but as a result the spectacle wasn't that great.

Wanderers were the better team though, and as the second period wore on they started to grow in confidence. A couple of reasonable chances went begging before the deadlock was broken. A ball in from the left was met by the head of Alan O'Flynn, and found the net via the crossbar. It was pandemonium on the pitch as the entire Cobh bench finished up in a huge pile on top of O'Flynn, but with fifteen minutes still to go there was plenty of work to do.

Old Church Park - Packed To The Rafters
Greystones threw men forward but the goal really knocked the stuffing out of them and they struggled to create anything of note. Three minutes of added time prolonged the agony for Cobh but the final whistle eventually arrived and history had been made.

Like many others I swarmed onto the pitch (for photographic reasons!) and watched the celebrations close hand. A date with Liffey United beckons, this was dreamland for little Cobh.

Driving back to Cork, the local radio reported the game as the lead story on the sports news, this was a huge moment for the town of Cobh, and was I glad I'd made the decision to witness it. Cobh Ramblers did indeed win the competition in 1983 as a senior side prior to entering the professional ranks. I wouldn't bet against the Wanderers completing a unique double.

I'll be watching from afar, but I suspect the town will be empty that day when every man, woman and child heads up to Dublin. It'll be a grand old day out, I wish them well!

Celebrations

Waterford Crystal

Waterford  2  Athlone Town  1

League of Ireland First Division

When you think of Irish Club Football, it's easy to let your thoughts drift towards the Shamrock Rovers side that made the headlines in the late Seventies and early Eighties. They certainly set their stall out to become a major player in European football under the Kilcoyne family regime.

Some would argue as well that the current Dundalk side that has won three titles in a row, along with a run in the Europa League that resulted in the group stages being reached, are up there as well, and possibly even on the verge of eclipsing Rovers as the best club team the emerald isle has produced. They certainly have cash in the bank to build.

However, if you go back to the late Sixties and early Seventies, one team dominated Irish domestic football and that was Waterford FC. Numerous league titles, Cup wins and glory days in Europe playing the likes of Celtic and Manchester United were par for the course. Life at Kilcohan Park was good, but leaner times would then lead to bad times.

A name change with the suffix 'United' being added took place in 1982, and the club rehoused to the newly built Regional Sports Centre (RSC) on the outskirts of town, away from Kilcohan which still stands as a Greyhound Stadium. Thrice they went down but came back up again, in 1990, 1998 and 2003.

A further relegation to the First Division took place in 2007, and since then it's been pretty much doom and gloom. I visited two years ago to see a game against Galway and I doubt there were many more than 300 in the ground. The future was looking pretty bleak with talk of serious financial concerns.

However, a new season saw a new owner in the shape of former Swindon Town Chairman Lee Power, and a reversion back to the original name of Waterford FC. Hope sprang eternal, with a new management team and a better financial footing, they were installed as one of the favourites to take the title and promotion to the level where by rights, they should be competing if history and size of the town is anything to go by.

Crowds are flocking back to to the RSC, over 1600 were at last weeks game against Cobh Ramblers, while tonight's game against an Athlone Town side that have been rumoured to be in financial straights themselves, attracted 1932 through the turnstiles. I'm not sure when Waterford last saw gates of this size, but probably not regularly since the heady days when honours were being competed for.

The drive from Cork was a steady hour and forty five minutes, and no trip to Waterford is the same without a trip round the impressive Waterford Crystal factory. Being Good Friday it was a dry day in the Republic, not a lager could be had anywhere, and to be fair it wasn't easy finding anywhere open for food. Parking at the RSC was fine given the plethora of Industrial and Retail outlets nearby that had closed for the day, and what struck me upon sitting in the spacious main stand was the atmosphere and the buzz around the club. It does feel as though the good times may be returning to Port Lairge in a footballing sense.

A Packed Main Stand
Waterford played some nice, incisive football but visiting Athlone after a stuttering start, also started to get into their rhythm, and while not a spectacular half of football, it was absorbing and not without quality.

Waterford took the lead just after the interval when Mark O'Sullivan forced the ball over the line, and then a long ball over the top just after the hour saw O'Sullivan out muscle the centre half and slot the ball past the visiting goalkeeper. It was a neat finish considering the front man looked to have been fouled and was heading for the deck when he made contact with the ball.

Christophe Rodrigues pulled a goal back almost moments later with a well placed shot, and then it looked like disaster for Waterford when they gave away a penalty five minutes later, but Connor Barry's effort was saved by Matthew Connor. Waterford hung on and cemented their place at the top of the league, and as we left, the singing from the main stand at the RSC could be heard well after the final whistle.

The journey back to Cork was devoid of any aggravation, the roads were empty (just like the pubs), but our fridge in the hotel room was well stocked. It had been a long old day, but a great one all the same.

There is talk that this is the last year of the Good Friday alcohol ban, it might also be the last year of the First Division for Waterford FC. They'll be celebrating with a drink no doubt. on both counts, in a carefully crafted crystal glass mind........
Looking Out Across The RSC


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Casually Corinthian

College Corinthians  0  Avondale United  0

Munster Senior League Premier Division

The eagerly awaited family holiday to Cork was not something I was going to let pass me by when it came to football, but it didn't prove to be that simple.

This was going to be our third trip to the Rebel County in recent years, and to be fair, on past visits I've been able to get my fix with trips to the like of Cork City and Cobh Ramblers, but this time round neither were playing at home during the seven night stay, so I had to think a bit broader about what to do.

The Munster Senior League sits below the League of Ireland, with many of it's top clubs having proud histories, both in terms of league honours, Cup runs and indeed producing players that have gone on to play at the highest level, Roy Keane being a great example.

The fixtures tend to arrive by weekly tranches though, so it wasn't until a few days prior to flying that I had any idea who was at home, but on the basis the vast majority of clubs are in the Cork area, once I'd got the details nothing was going to be out of reach given we had a car.

The original plan suited me perfectly, University College Cork were at home to Cobh Wanderers on the Tuesday night, but on Monday afternoon I spotted it had been postponed which was a shame as the Mardyke ground was one I really wanted to go to, and it was only a ten minute walk from our hotel!

The Business End of Castletreasure
Nothing else was happening on the Tuesday so I decided to switch my attentions to Wednesday, and it was then that I spotted College Corinthians were at home. The other problem with the league is that the name of the club doesn't always give much away in terms of locations. College Corinthians is an example of this, so I had to dig around a little to find out a bit about them.

They sat second in the league behind UCC, which is bizarre because it turns out that the Corinthians are the club for former students of UCC, so academia is certainly turning out good footballers it appears. I also found out that they played on the very Southern edge of Cork, to the East of the airport and from where we were staying, a twenty minute drive.

Getting to the wonderfully named Castletreasure ground proved slightly trickier than I expected. Heavy traffic on the South Ring reduced things to crawling pace, and then once down the slip road towards the Douglas Shopping Centre, the queues to get round the roundabout and through the lights were not great. However, once negotiated it was a straightforward uphill climb to the ground.

Sat high up overlooking the City, the ground comprised of an artificial pitch that was being used by the junior sides, a training pitch, and the main pitch to the bottom of the complex. A dressing room building and a club room were the focal point but in terms of refreshments it was a van outside doing warm drinks and chocolate.

And They're Off!
A crowd of around 40 assembled to watch mid-table Avondale United thwart the hosts at every juncture. Corinthians looked the sharper of the two teams but lacked a cutting edge in the final third of the field, 0-0 did look a good bet early on in the game and to be fair came as no surprise.

That said, it was a very entertaining game, and always held the attention. Avondale will probably be the happier of the two sides with a point, while the Corinthians will probably feel somewhat frustrated. The standard impressed me, Munster Senior League sides have caused the odd upset in the FAI Cup against League of Ireland teams, and you could see why.

The journey back was far more straightforward, and as I walked into the bar at the River Lee Hotel in Cork, a pint was waiting for me at the table. Life doesn't get much better does it?

Match Action